Canadian Regulators Say Bell Canada's DSL Throttling Is Fine

from the sorta-misses-the-point,-though dept

Earlier this year, you may recall that Bell Canada started traffic shaping its DSL even at the wholesale level -- and did so without bothering to tell any of its resellers. That meant that various resellers of Bell Canada, which had promised customers an open network, were suddenly lying, without even knowing it. These reseller ISPs protested, and Bell Canada responded by telling them to shut up and deal with it. The other ISPs protested to Canadian regulators who have now sided with Bell Canada, claiming that the traffic shaping is not discriminatory, because it impacts all reseller ISPs the same way. Of course, that's not the type of discrimination the ISPs were complaining about...

The whole thing does seem quite questionable, as Bell Canada effectively changed the terms by which it provided service to its reseller ISPs, without any notification, let alone negotiation. Yet, because Bell Canada is effectively a monopoly as a provider of DSL, the ISPs have no competitive options to which they can turn. It sounds like the regulators could be convinced to examine other aspects of Bell Canada's traffic shaping plans, but for now, it's given the go-ahead on having them force all resellers to provide traffic-shaped DSL, even if they had promised not to traffic shape.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    bdhoo, Nov 20th, 2008 @ 9:19pm

    Not true

    The CRTC found that Bell Canada's practice of traffic shaping was nondiscriminatory because ALL customers - those who were served by reseller ISPs as well as those retail customers who were served by Bell Canada - were treated the same way. In other words, Bell Canada didn't derive a competitive advantage by screwing with their competitors' customers and not their own.

    You might not like the decision but don't make it out to be dumber than it really is.

     

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  2.  
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    bob, Nov 20th, 2008 @ 9:27pm

    Canada Used To Be Cool

    Until they got par with our dollar and this.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 20th, 2008 @ 9:59pm

    Re: Not true

    Go work for a ISP that resells DSL, then tell me this isn't flat wrong. As someone who works for such an ISP in the states.. this case is troubling, especially the Canadians interpretation of events. Since AT&T has been reforming, the amount we're charged for bandwidth, specifically DSL bandwidth has been going up. We're not allowed to truly compete with them on service, since upper tiers are held for AT&T customers only, and they won't allow us to resell their fastest connection speeds.. thank you Congress. The only edges we really have, is quality service and unrestricted access. Since we're a small business, we can sell on a level of customer service AT&T can't. As well as completely unrestricted usage. Now, if AT&T starts restricting access to all DSL connections.. including wholesale.. It's effectively screwing our business of one of its major selling points. And thats EXACTLY what Bell Canada is doing.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 20th, 2008 @ 10:01pm

    Re: Not true

    Its why Monopolies are bad.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 20th, 2008 @ 11:32pm

    so what happens when some one decides to sue those ISPs for false advertising, better yet why is it ok for Bell Canada to change the terms of the deal they made with those ISPs after the fact?

     

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  6.  
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    Joe, Nov 21st, 2008 @ 12:40am

    4 blind men and an elephant...

    From the excellent Michael Geist. Well worth repeating.

    Mirko Bibic, Chief Regulatory Officer, Bell:

    "With this decision, the Commission has rightly confirmed that network operators are in the best position to determine how to operate their networks effectively and efficiently, to allow fair and proportionate use of the Internet by all users."

    Len Katz, Vice-Chair, CRTC:

    "Someone told me Bell put out a press release that said the commission upheld its position that network management practices are a fundamental right of theirs. That's not what we said at all."

    http://www.michaelgeist.ca/content/view/3531/125/

     

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  7.  
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    toySouljah, Nov 21st, 2008 @ 12:50am

    Re:

    Well, actually that clause is in a lot of EULA's usually near the bottom that usually read along the lines of "Terms subject to change without notification" So they leave it up to the consumer (in this case the smaller ISP's) to re-read the agreement every so often.

    Also, to the first poster saying:

    "The CRTC found that Bell Canada's practice of traffic shaping was nondiscriminatory because ALL customers - those who were served by reseller ISPs as well as those retail customers who were served by Bell Canada - were treated the same way. In other words, Bell Canada didn't derive a competitive advantage by screwing with their competitors' customers and not their own."

    I think the problem is traffic shaping in general as being discriminatory since not all sites are treated equally. I think the only service that should have top priority would be emergency services if used over things like VoIP. Other than that there should not be any traffic shaping. I'm not too clear as to exactly what kind of shaping they are implementing, but I'm pretty sure it has something to do with file trading/sharing.

     

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  8.  
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    Dave, Nov 21st, 2008 @ 5:43am

    Re: Not true

    They also split off the overall debate on bandwidth throttling to have a debate about it in the spring.

    This is the third blog article that didn't RTFD (read the f***ing decision)

     

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  9.  
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    Serge, Nov 21st, 2008 @ 9:43am

    No; and, wrong.

    Weird. Masnick's headline says "Canadian Regulators Say Bell Canada's DSL Throttling Is Fine", but his article mainly complains that "Bell Canada effectively changed the terms by which it provided service to its reseller ISPs, without any notification, let alone negotiation."

    Actually, the Canadian regulator (just one of 'em, Mike) said that no notification was not fine. The next step is for Bell to file the standard notification form it will use, and to start using it with at least 30-day advance warning.

    Weirdly, Masnick also writes: "Yet, because Bell Canada is effectively a monopoly as a provider of DSL, the ISPs have no competitive options to which they can turn."

    Um, in addition to mandating that the incumbent DSL providers unbundle their DSL at regulated prices (the tariff this hearing was about was the cheap one -- they also have to make more expensive, non-filtered DSL available, but it's expensive because not oversubscribed), the Canadian regulator also requires cable companies to resell to ISPs. Cable companies cover just about the whole country.

    So, yeah, ISPs do have competitive options where they can turn.

    Finally, what Dave said. This was about a particular complaint about a particular wholesale tariff filed by a particular ISP (well, an association). The actual throttling proceeding is just starting.

     

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  10.  
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    Shep, Nov 21st, 2008 @ 6:17pm

    Re: Not true

    I disagree, Bell derived an advantage from this. Whenever a reseller and wholesaler are in competition, and a reseller is made less distinct from the wholesaler, I'd say that's an advantage to the wholesaler.

    It's like this: Bell throttles their retail customers because they think it will bolster their video-on-demand market. Those customers leave Bell and flock to other ISP's who do not throttle. So Bell throttles those ISP's connections, just because they can. After all, they're obliged to maximize profits, and cutting your competitors legs out from under them is a profitable thing to do. Bell has promised for years that they wouldn't throttle wholesale, and then flipped the switch without warning.

    At least the CRTC acknowledged that Bell should have given the CAIP 30 days notice. But if Bell did that, well shucks, maybe the CAIP would have submitted an appeal to the CRTC to stop Bell from doing that. So Bell did the smart thing, and just hoped noone would notice the throttling.

    And here's a question. Say, if I buy 1gbps of bandwidth from you, how many bps is that 'after-throttling'? If I buy 1TB a month, and you don't let me even reach the limit, how much did I buy?

    Remember, Canadian taxpayers paid for the construction of this network with the agreement that, in exchange, Bell would provide competitive wholesale access. Now there's actual competition and Bell doesn't want to play nice.

    Canadians are frustrated with our embrassing broadband market. Maybe our new Industry minister will help us (HA!).

     

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  11.  
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    Shep, Nov 21st, 2008 @ 6:20pm

    Re: Canada Used To Be Cool

    Have you seen the dollar lately?

     

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  12.  
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    TtfnJohn, Nov 21st, 2008 @ 7:36pm

    This surprises anyone?

    For years most of us Canucks have known that the CRTC is deep in the pocket of the Cablecos and now have proven what a number of us always suspected that the other pocket is full of telcos.

    Strikes me that it's been a very long time since the CRTC regulated to protect the consumers in any of this and seems only interested in protecting the companies they're supposed to regulate.

    Not, I should add, an uncommon observation.

    As people have pointed out the report on this is in error in a few minor ways but the fact is that the CRTC does say Bell or any other broadband provider can throttle traffic however they wish.

    I can't say I'm all that surprised or shocked.

    ttfn

    John

     

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  13.  
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    Justin L, Dec 5th, 2008 @ 10:35pm

    regulatory bodies: public enemy number one

    the CRTC, like almost every regulatory body in Canada (dairy, banking, etc..) exists, in theory, to protect the public from monopolies, artificial prices, withheld services, etc.. that's their mission statement, written into the legislation that gives them authority. their formal mission is to foster inexpensive and robust communications because it's in the best interest of our society

    but also like every regulatory body in Canada, the practice is that they're blatant about doing the exact opposite. all of our regulatory bodies exist, in practice, to ensure that big players can collude with one another and keep out competitors, that prices can and will therefore be fixed at many times the natural level we'd pay in a competitive market, that companies therefore won't have to invest in providing new and better services in order to compete, and also, most disgustingly, our regulatory bodies generally impose fictional fee schedules on canadians to squeeze even more money from us. we pay fees for things that cost the companies nothing, imposed by regulatory bodies that supposedly exist to prevent exactly that kind of highway robbery

    also, this isn't just the natural form of the market. this is the government using its power of coercion, ultimately enforced by men with guns, to lock up our largest and most important markets to inflate our pricing to many times what we would otherwise be paying. it is literally armed robbery. it is formalized, it is on a national level, it's written into our law, sanctioned by liars and thieves who collude across party lines to keep our political scene silent on the subject, enforced by police and other public servants whose salaries we pay. but it is robbery

    if you don't like it, demand change, and refuse to vote for any party that won't talk about it and commit to reform. it's a cancer in canadian society, it's in all of our major industries, it's the way we currently do business, it's horrible, and it needs to change now

     

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